Secretary of Corrections Gregg Marcantel gestures to UNM students who will create a new and improved business model for the Corrections Industries Division.
Students at the University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Management (ASM) will be at the forefront to design and develop an improved business model for the New Mexico Corrections Department's Correction Industries Division announced Governor Susana Martinez at a press conference Tuesday at the Jackson Student Center at UNM.

The partnership involves the Small Business Institute at ASM with the Corrections Industries to develop an improved business model based on more recent and relevant market demands that involve inmate labor including work skills transferable for their future employment following release. Work on the new business model will also include planning to move Corrections Industries business processes toward self-sufficiency to assure fewer burdens upon existing tax dollars.

"I appreciate the work that will be done by the students and professors at the Anderson School as they partner with the Corrections Department to establish a better business model for our inmate work programs; this is an important collaboration that should benefit the people of our state in a number of ways," said Martinez.

The purpose of the Corrections Industries Division, which was established in 1978 by an act of the New Mexico Legislature as a business-like governmental entity, is to provide training and work experience opportunities for inmates to instill a quality work ethic and to prepare them to perform effectively in an employment position and to reduce idle time of inmates while in prison. Its strategic objective is to promote new and profitable products and services that are affordable to customers and provide training and a transferable skill to inmates, and reduce inmate idleness.

"The Corrections Industries program has the potential to provide important needs for our communities, instill skills and trades in our inmate population that can improve their chances of success in life after they've served their time, and operate in a self-sustaining way that doesn't cost taxpayers money," said Martinez. "Currently, taxpayers are subsidizing a program that is meant to be self-sufficient. We feel this is a great way to improve inmate incarceration programs."

Part of the problem with the current business model is the production by inmates of products that are no longer relevant in the marketplace. That in turn makes it more difficult for inmates who are released to find meaningful work if they are acquiring skills through inmate incarceration programs that are no longer useful on the outside.

The partnership with the Anderson School of Management is a four-month project that will conclude at the end of the fall semester in December. It will include an evaluation of vocational training currently offered, market demands and taxpayers' return on services provided.

"We are excited to take on this new project," said ASM Dean Doug Brown. "This is a good opportunity for our students to see how the state government works and is seen as a win/win for public purpose. Some of the things we will be looking at are specifically the business aspect of Corrections Industries, including the Strategic Plan and the Business Model."

MBA student Shannon Carr.
Students are also excited about the project. MBA student Shannon Carr, who also works full-time as a Contract and Grant Administrator in the Pre-Award Services Department at UNM, picked this semester-long project because of her background and experience with federal contracts.

"As a Contract and Grant Administrator, I am interested in learning more about the federal government," said Carr. "Understanding how the Corrections Department operates and connecting that with current market demands will allow us to better assist them in moving towards an entirely self-sustaining operation. This is a great opportunity for UNM to help the Corrections Department in developing a long-term business model which will create programs that help inmates build skills in multiple disciplines."

Some ideas could be through green initiatives such as solar and automotive industries, where the career fields show continued job prospects well into the future.

"We don't want one particular area of focus." said Carr. "We will be researching various opportunities that will create long lasting change and help the future of the Corrections department on the road to self-sustainment."

The team involved in the project will include six students and will be led by Professor Maria Gondo said Raj Mahto, director of the Small Business Institute at ASM. Kenneth Blemel, a UNM Alumnus, will serve as a mentor for the project, which will cost to taxpayers a mere $500.

Students and faculty will be meeting with NMCD staff, doing research, making presentations, and creating a report for the Corrections Industries Division to identify problem areas in the current business model and will provide recommendations for becoming a self-sustaining enterprise.

"We look forward to working with our new partners at UNM's Anderson School of Business to make more positive changes to the functioning of our Corrections Industries Division," said Secretary of Corrections Gregg Marcantel. "Collaborations such as these are key to more accountable and efficient functioning in State government. I couldn't be more excited to see what our partnering graduate students will come up with."

Media contacts: Leslie Venzuela (505) 277-7117; email: venzuela@mgt.unm.edu or Steve Carr (505) 277-1821; email: scarr@unm.edu